Sunday, April 6, 2014


One of the things I love about having a BVS placement at the General Offices is getting to worship with the staff every Wednesday at chapel. Someone new leads each week. A couple weeks ago I got the chance to lead chapel and I thought I would share the reflection I offered...

When I think about wood, many things come to mind. I think about trees. How majestic and deeply rooted they are. How wood is so critical to my daily life from the books I love to read to the BVS house where I live. I also think about how rare they are, well at least being from Kansas naturally that comes to mind. I think about how there are different colors, smells, and the purposes for wood. Like dark colored walnut that is strong and versatile to softer woods like pine that is quick growing and is often used in building things. I also think about my Grandpa Lyle.

My grandmother can often be found saying, “Your Grandfather is the best kind of man to marry. He can fix anything, create, and make whatever you would need around the house, as long as it is made out of wood.” As I have grown up I have witnessed how true this is. Whenever grandpa came to visit or I went to visit him, he was always working on some kind of project. And I was always welcomed to watch and even sometimes was able to help. I have memories of grandpa sitting all us grandchildren at the kitchen table and teaching us how to carve using ivory soup and butter knives, I made a penguin. I also think about him every time I walk into my office and see the Church of the Brethren Cross he made me as a graduation present.

This Christmas I found myself reflecting on my Grandpa’s craftiness while he helped me build the loom we are using to count NYC registrations.

My Grandpa working on the loom.

The loom in action.

 While we were in his workshop he showed me a dresser, which is this winter’s restoration project. It was a dresser that was my great grandmothers. It had been sitting in their garage for decades through harsh winters and hot summers. It was clear it need a lot of work. What really struck me was my Grandpa’s incredible knack for looking at the dresser and seeing what potential the piece had. He had already begun the slow process of transforming the furniture to reveal its true glory and restore the piece to its original purpose. I believe that God is like this as well.

So often people are battered, defaced, and neglected by life. Think layers of judgment and injustice are painted on.  The beautiful thing is how God can restore us. In Psalm 51 you hear David begging to be restored. “Create in me a clean heart, o god, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” But the restoration process isn’t always a painless process. A person may long for it to happen but often shy away from the process. There is a song by Joy Miller, called “Refined” has great imagery for what it is like to be restored by God.

The phrase that I often find floating in my head after I listen to this song is, “Stripped me down to truth and bone till I’m beautiful and bare and refined.” It isn’t until we allow God to make changes within us are we stripped of all the bad things and able to begin the process of being restored to our original intention. This is similar to my grandpa stripping old paint and varnish off a piece he his refinishing before he makes the repairs. After we allow ourselves to be stripped of what blemishes us we can begin the process of putting our life back together. It is like adding a new coat of varnish or carving a new leg or foot. Once we are put back together we then become a useable dresser again rather than just a forgotten piece of furniture. I challenge you the next time you are feeling worn down to not shy away from the carpenter’s hands and allow God to strip you down to truth and bone and create in you a clean heart.